In the spirit of the holiday season, the above mentioned title of this story should make you smile and cringe at the same time. Why in the world do us Baltimore Ravens fans "need" those obnoxious and cocky Pittsburgh Steelers fans? And why do those same Steelers fans need us equally obnoxious and whiny Ravens fans? Well, if you all calm down for a moment on the eve of such a hallowed day, then perhaps you will see it just as I do.
Both teams have enjoyed consistent success over the past decade for the most part. Sure there have been those disappointing, even losing seasons for both teams and at times one team has been up while the other down, and vice versa. However, when the Ravens and Steelers get together for one of their two (at least) brawls each season, nothing seems to matter. The entire week is consumed with the excitement and trash talking between the teams, fans and media. The networks and talk radio stations are flooded with the hunger to rant, rave and unleash a torrent of one-sided opinions, depending on where your loyalty lies.
Records and stats aside, these games are why most people look at when the schedule comes out in the summer Once the season starts, both teams point to the date when they first play each other, and then next to the second time This season is no different, as the Ravens and Steelers both looked forward to the first meeting in Baltimore in week nine as the barometer of where they'd stand at that point. Of course, neither team expected to get swept by the Cincinnati Bengals and be fighting for their playoffs lives, much less the injuries in such key players as Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed.
However, the Steelers made their tough rep with wins over the tough Ravens, especially with three of them coming last year. The Ravens, despite their losses, have earned the respect around the league for sticking with the Super Bowl Champs and giving them all they could take. A few plays over the course of those three losses could have easily changed the outcomes and when you talk about the top defenses in the league, Pittsburgh and Baltimore are always mentioned at the top of that conversation.
To have a great rivalry, there has to be two good teams in the battle. These two teams have gone to war with each other and while they do indeed truly dislike each other, there is a profound awareness of the respect the players share. Once the final whistle blows, both teams to a man realize they've just been through a war on the battlefield, one that is unmatched in the realm of professional sports. And for that, both teams fans should feel the same way and although I doubt they can turn it off like the players can, we need to realize that without the other team and its fans, the rivalry and the passion would just not feel the same. So, in the spirit of the holiday season, from this Ravens fan, I wish our Pittsburgh Steelers' brethren thanks and wishes for a safe and happy holiday season and we will join you in cheering passionately, albeit on different plays, this coming Sunday.